How Can Teenagers Relate to Olivia Rodrigo's SOUR


SOUR is a medley of various genres and epitomizes the exploratory and youthful nature of Rodrigo's music in the past. All of us can easily relate to Olivia Rodrigo, maybe not the fame and fortune, but definitely the feeling of being gutted by heartbreak. A mixture of melancholic and mischievous tunes constructed the failed romance SOUR initially orchestrates. As we all know, Rodrigo was only 17 when she put together the lyrics of extremely heartbreaking songs. Inspired by international MEGA superstar Taylor Swift, Rodrigo uses her emotional turmoil and damage as fuel to write the lyrics for her next groundbreaking song. Diving into the mind of a 17-year-old is like entering every high school student's daily struggle, therefore Rodrigo is the perfect person to speak about the teenage dilemmas, starting with Brutal.

1. Brutal

Brutal is an interesting start to Rodrigo's album, with a very different production than her hit single 'driver's license'. Rodrigo develops a wry and resentful tone towards society and emphasizes her inability to parallel park, quite relatable (I can't parallel park either). What really stands out in this intro song is “where's my fucking teenage dream” depicting society's obsession with romanticizing beauty and youth. The importance of the swear word used in this line is to display Rodrigo's spite towards the pop culture industry and show her lack of elegance when it comes to talking about this idealistic concept of 'the teenage dream'.

Throughout the song, it is evident that she is brutally honest about every experience an adolescent, or 17-year-old teenager, goes through, especially when she mentions not only the insecurities she deals with but also the mind of almost every high school student. Questions like; what should I wear? Do they like me? Does everyone hate me? I'm going to fail school right? Oh my god did my best friend say that about me? What a b****! Just like how Rodrigo tunes in to see what people are saying about her every day, any normal kid would go on social media to check out what their comments are and how many likes they get on a specific picture. Rodrigo is clearly anxious about her future and states the relatable lyrics;

Cause I love people I don’t like

And I hate every song I write

And I’m not cool, and I’m not smart

And I can’t even parallel park

This is very relatable, not even sugarcoated, just blunt and straightforward. That's the thing about Rodrigo in this song; she gets straight to the point, which is something teenagers have difficulty doing. Teen years might be the most carefree days in our lives. However, this does not mean that some people do struggle through them. The worst is yet to come....teenage heartbreak!

2. Traitor

Heartbreak is inevitable, especially if you are someone as vulnerable as Rodrigo when it comes to love. Her second track, traitor, as implied by the title, embodies the core of a relationship going south where Rodrigo plays dumb when she is actually very self-aware of her situation.

Brown guilty eyes and

little white lies, yeah

I played dumb but I always knew

The fear that your partner might be seeing other people, or perhaps falling for someone else whilst still in a relationship with you is something everyone, specifically Rodrigo, fears. In order to tolerate such a situation, Olivia believed that playing dumb was the only path to take. The feeling and imagery of being stabbed in the back are repeated throughout the album, yet in traitor, it is more hurtful and regretful. The feeling of being betrayed even when your partner did not cheat is very common, as being a 'traitor' means that you are no longer on the same team as your partner but actually an opposer. This is specifically visible in the chorus when Rodrigo states;

It took you two weeks to go off and date her,

Guess you didn't cheat, but you're still a traitor

In order to avoid heartbreak, which she believed came from ending the relationship when in actuality it was treatment throughout, she acted naively to keep her boyfriend. This is a sign of being in a toxic relationship, which most teenagers tend to be part of, due to the naivete of being so young, making us easily manipulated. Not only does Rodrigo address this feeling of betrayal, but also the things one sacrifices in order to stay with their significant other, no matter the cost. Eventually, the tone shifts to being more regretful and reminiscent when she transitions to her third track Driver's license.

3. Driver's License

Entering the stage of disbelief, Rodrigo's hit single Driver's License broke the charts and spread all over tik tok, making her the star that she is today. Driving down your exes' street and reminiscing on the time you could have had together if he could have stayed is the central theme of this song. Finally, achieving something that you and your ex have been talking about for so long, that it has now become something that you experience alone, is extremely heartbreaking. The stage where one asks themselves 'what if?'. What if I had done this differently, would he be driving down the suburbs with me then? An iconic yet heartbreaking lyric set the tone for the rest of the song as well as the album;

You said forever, now I drive alone past your street

The perfect single to release before the album, establishing this tension of heartbreak and the side where one misses their partner and wishes them to come back.

4. 1 step forward, 3 steps back

This song is perfect for self-realization. The realization that even when you feel that you are moving forward with the relationship, there is still something your partner does to just return you back to square 1. This vicious cycle is surprisingly common in a lot of high school relationships, I even knew a couple of three years who repeated this long and tiring cycle. It was heartbreaking to watch, let alone live through. The lyric that really stood out for me was;

And maybe in some masochistic way

I kinda find it all exciting

Like, which lover will I get today

Will you walk me to the door, or send me home cryin'?

The tone and mood Rodrigo set are when one questions themselves consistently and repeatedly with 'Did I do something wrong?' rather than realizing the manipulation that is coming from your partner. These lyrics, it really shows how the thrill of the chase and not having something you really want will actually make you want the relationship, even more, it is as though someone sadistic is addicted to hurting people physically, Rodrigo finds it exciting to be hurt emotionally. Not to mention that the track interpolates Swift's 2017 cut, New Year's Day, underlying the deep importance and significance Swift's music has on Olivia Rodrigo.

SOUR reveals a lot of self-doubt, inadequacy, and surrendering one's self-worth to the approval of others. It seems that a common theme throughout this album in comparison, such as in 'Driver's license' and 'jealousy, jealousy'. Furthermore, the desire to fulfill one's partner's needs with regard to looks and personality is clearly depicted in 'enough for you'.

5. Deja vu

DO YOU GET DEJA VU? A lot of anger towards this song, especially since this is Rodrigo's big F U to her ex-boyfriend. The lyrics in this song portray how one's ex is doing the exact same things they did in their relationship, but just with another partner. Therefore, just like 'driver's license' this is completely RELATABLE. Have you ever seen your ex with a new girl taking her to the exact same places you guys went for your first date, buying her the exact same presents he bought you, etc... because I know MOST of us have been there?

The exact definition of Déjà vu means “already seen” in French. Hence, in English, it is an expression used to describe the feeling you get when you feel like you have gone through the experience that is happening to you now before. It's definitely different from Rodrigo's typical 'sad ballad girl' as it is more of an attack on the ex, rather than asking 'What did I do wrong'. Rodrigo is definitely showing her resentment in this song, something that everyone experiences in some stage of their relationship where they have not completely moved on but still F U!

6. Good 4 u

This song definitely has sarcastic overtones. Rodrigo has now become bitter to her ex and spites him for having a new girl in only TWO WEEKS. Yikes. But good for him, I guess? This song really depicts sort of a roast to the partner especially through the line;

And good for you, I guess that you've been workin' on yourself

I guess that therapist I found for you, she really helped

Now you can be a better man for your brand-new girl (girl)

These lyrics really emphasize the effort Rodrigo put into the relationship in order to help her partner with his mental health issues, going as far as getting him a therapist!! Now, this is love... I guess. Unfortunately, the amount of effort contributed to the relationship was only one-sided, and Olivia was left heartbroken and well, ...bitter. Even in the chorus, she sings about how happy she is for him, well sarcastically. She does not feel happy for the fact that he has moved on in two weeks and definitely doesn't care to know about how he has become a better man for the brand-new girl.

Seeing your ex be the person you wanted him to be with another girl, is extremely heartbreaking, especially since he was her priority when it came to considering his feelings. However, he never considered how Olivia felt about this whole “I'm fixing you situation”, leading her to write this awesome and F U song to every ex who has done us wrong!

7. enough for you

“Sad ballad girl” is back, and she's coming stronger than ever, wrecking us with this absolutely heart-wrenching song 'enough for you'. Were you in tears? Because I definitely was... Rodrigo embodies the exact concept of going out of her way in order to please a man, even if it meant changing some of her interests to fit his. She felt that if she was everything he liked, then it would be very unlikely for him to leave her without a good enough reason. It absolutely broke her heart when he left her in a split second as he met a more interesting and eye-catching girl.

You found someone more exciting

The next second, you were gone

And you left me there cryin', wondering what I did wrong

This idea of being left crying intertwines with '1 step forward, 3 steps back'. However, here Rodrigo comes to terms with the fact that her relationship is over and all she can do is reflect and look back at what unfolded. Therefore, the only reasonable explanation she believed was that she just was not good enough, something most teenagers can relate to. It does not even need to be about a breakup like Rodrigo, but perhaps a more close-to-home issue that left this individual broken. Rodrigo felt helpless in this relationship like there was nothing else she could do to prevent him from falling out of love.

8. Happier

We have all been there when it comes to wishing for your partner to be happy, but not as happy as they were when you were in a relationship. Especially if you still haven't moved on from such a heartbreaking end to a serious relationship. Olivia wishes nothing but the best for her former ex-boyfriend, but she cannot seem to let him go enough for her to 100% wish him the best of luck in his new relationship. Throughout the lyrics, Olivia also expresses her anger and her tone seems to be very blunt and mad.

And do you tell her she's the most beautiful girl you've ever seen

An enteral love bullshit you know you'll never mean

Remember when I believed

You meant it when you first said it to me?

These lyrics really showcase how she was manipulated by her ex, and wonder whether he treats his new girl the same way he treated her, feeding her with the same nonsense he fed Olivia. Rodrigo cannot help but pick apart the new girl, using really aggressive diction such as 'cuttin her down' when she describes how she is looking for any flaws in order to feel contempt. However, Olivia only does this out of selfishness and bitterness towards her ex, we've all been there.

9. Jealousy, jealousy

This song was written as a critique of society and how social media depict certain aspects of life that may or may not be fabricated. Therefore, as developing girls who are still at the age of figuring out what we like and dislike, it can be confusing seeing these gorgeous and unrealistic beauty standards who live in mansions and travel all around the world without worrying about anything. It has come to the point where we would purposely open social media to look for things that would hurt us and use this time to compare ourselves to other people.

Com-comparison is killin' me slowly

I think I think too much

'Bout kids who don't know me

I'm so sick of myself, I'd rather be, rather be

Anyone, anyone else

My jealousy, jealousy started followin' me (He-he-he, he)

It is ironic how, in the chorus, Olivia mentions the act of following someone on social media. Instead, jealousy followed her through following someone on social media, feeding into the toxic mindset of it. She digresses though, as she points out that just because they are getting all these things does not mean she is losing, but she still gets wrapped up in the highlights on other people's social media. Throughout the song, she emphasizes the idea of being caught up in other people's posts and the lives they want others to perceive that we would also want to have these things. Jealousy IS following us.

10. Favorite crime

This song is an absolute whirlwind of emotions, especially when Rodrigo uses the metaphor of a crime scene in order to clearly show us how her ex committed a crime by breaking her heart. However, there is still a part of her that refuses to let go when she wishes and hopes that she is his FAVORITE crime. Now that is another level of heartbreak.

The first verse introduces the murder scene where Olivia's heart is being murdered, to say the least. She lies, a hole in her heart, and a doe-eyed boy who has blood on his hand standing next to another girl who also has blood on her hands. “One heart broke, four hands bloody” clearly accentuates that there was a third party involved in the crime, which was the girl with who Olivia's ex betrayed her. They walk away as Olivia bleeds out. She considered the fact that he left her so abruptly to the point that she has trust issues a crime in itself but what really set her off was him watching her in pain yet still walking off to the sunset with his new girl. I don't know about you, but this is a crime and the man should be guilty of his crimes.

11. hope ur ok

Hope ur ok is a very beautiful song that is established as a hopeful anthem directed towards outcasts, people who feel out of place. Now, this is very different from the theme of heartbreak and Rodrigo's relationship, yet it is still a perfect end to the album. It rings positivity to those who have been hurt or face ongoing hardships in either their social or family lives. Olivia explains how some lyrics were written from the perspective of her friends and the situations that they have been in.

In the first verse, Olivia describes someone with a religious upbringing, and how he faced discrimination from his own parents. The line “he wore long sleeves 'cause of his dad” alludes to the subject's father abusing him. Olivia then uses one of her favorite lines, “Hope he took his bad deal and made a royal flush” as a metaphorical comparison in order to portray her hope that this boy has overcome the problems and hardships he was faced with. Throughout the other verses, Olivia continues to show her acceptance and love for the people who have been in such situations and that she stands with them, supporting them no matter what. Sometimes it is nice to hear the line 'hope ur ok' giving you this idea that yes you matter, which was essentially Rodrigo's goal for this song.

Well, I hope you know how proud I am you were created

With the courage to unlearn all of their hatred

But, God, I hope that you're happier today

'Cause I love you

And I hope that you're okay

A beautiful outro that really embodies Rodrigo's acceptance and encouragement for these people to move on from their hardships and become happier, just like how she has now moved on, accepting the fact that her heartbreak is just an obstacle she was destined to face in her life. Rodrigo continues to prove how inspiring and talented she is through her beautiful lyricism and her ability to engage and relate to her audience.

Malak Kandil
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Malak Kandil is 16 and a senior in high school who uses her culture and surroundings as a way to communicate her thoughts into writing. She loves to give advice on many aspects and enjoys literature as well as entertainment. Malak enjoys spending time going out with her friends and family, reading, traveling and helping others. Music is her main source of happiness, she listens and dances all the time whether it is alone or with her friends. She hopes to spend her final year of high school working towards her goals and having fun with her friends before university.